Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Senator John Heinz History Center
Through May 31
10 a.m. — 5 p.m.

Courtesy of the Senator John Heinz History Center
Courtesy of the Senator John Heinz History Center

With its latest exhibition, the Senator John Heinz History Center is filling its galleries with the iconic toys of yesteryear. Opening on Friday, March 4th, the 8,000-square-foot exhibition, Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, will showcase the form, function and fun of the country’s most popular toys.

Boasting 500 enduring favorites—from Slinky, Simon and Atari, to Hot Wheels and Trouble—the exhibit will examine how toys can teach us about these three pivotal decades in American society. Augmenting the exhibit will be special interactive components, including life-size games, hands-on play areas, and a toys trivia game.

Interactive displays will feature the perspectives of children, parents, child experts, inventors and advertisers—all involved in the design, manufacture, sale and use of toys.

Don’t miss the Smithsonian artifacts, such as a 1950s-era Mr. Potato Head and a Digi-Comp1 computer game from the 70s, and a hands-on replica of an actual garage featuring plastic bowling pins, Nerf footballs and hula hoops.

Visitors can also rekindle their skills playing classic games such as Hungry Hippos and Rock’em Sock’em Robots, race Slinkys down a staircase and step into interactive rooms from each decade—including a 1960s living room modeled after a Barbie Dreamhouse.

Toy lovers can also learn the fascinating stories behind toys developed right here in Western Pennsylvania, such as Wolverine Toy Company products and the Slinky.

Courtesy of the Heinz History Center
Courtesy of the Heinz History Center

The exhibition culminates with a special gallery featuring a dozen vintage arcade and pinball games.

A variety of vintage toys, such as silly putty, Troll dolls and Mr. Potato Head and Gumby figures, will be available for sale at the special pop-up toy shop.

Check out the History Center’s public programs which include a “Toys Takeover Game Hall” featuring larger-than-life versions Jenga and Connect Four, a 21+ After Hours Playtime, and a Vintage Pittsburgh marketplace, and lots ore.

Looking for more events? Read our 12 Pittsburgh events not to miss in March feature.

Jennifer BaronArts & Entertainment / Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.